The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) on monday said the outbreak of cholera, which led to the death of about 50 people in Borno State, has been curbed. Speaking in Maiduguri during this year’s celebration of the ‘Hand-washing Day’, the Field Officer of UNICEF in Borno State, Geoffrey Ijumba, said for the past one week, no new death has been recorded as a result of the recent cholera outbreak.

He said as simple as it may sound, routine hand-washing with water and soap has saved many lives of people as it has checkmated contracting “water-borne diseases.” Ijumba said people cannot wash their hands in a clean way if there is no water and soap or ash, stressing that a combination of water and soap to wash hands had saved many lives of people living in rural and urban centres of the state. He said in order to save life and combat water-borne diseases, UNICEF in conjunction with the state government and other stakeholders has gone out to provide hand pumps. “When the pumps are not working properly, we have provided solar-powered pumps. When these pumps are not working properly, we have motorised them with electric powered-pumps,” he stated. Ijumba said when all these fail, “we also make sure that we tap the water” in order to roll back cholera. He said despite the loss of lives last month, there is light at the end of the tunnel as there has not be any death due to cholera since last week. The state Commissioner for Water Resources, Dr. Zainab Gimba, who also spoke during the occasion, attributed the cholera outbreak to poor hygiene practices among the people living in urban and rural area of the state. She said regular washing of hands with soap is the most effective way to stop the spread of diarrhea, cholera and pneumonia. The commissioner claimed that regular hand washing with soap has reduced the incidences of diarrhea and pneumonia by about 50 per cent and 25 per cent respectively. She noted that “effective and lifesaving weapon of hand-washing is rarely practiced and must be encouraged in homes, schools, hospitals, markets and public gatherings, where people eat during festivities and marriage and naming ceremonies.” Gimba said the state government has targeted 70 per cent of houses and 100 per cent of schools with hygiene sanitation facilities by the 2025.

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